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Anybody radically change their diet after breast cancer?

mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

I’ve always followed a low fat diet that includes fish, chicken and occasional red meat. After having a diagnosis of breast cancer I’ve started reading a lot about foods to avoid if ER+ PR+ and I’m wondering if anyone changed their diet and eliminated a lot of food that is considered bad for this type of cancer? I’m currently going through chemo and my oncologist doesn’t want me to make any huge changes until I’m done, he said to eat what sounds good right now because a lot just isn’t sounding good. I’m just trying to gather information for the future and would appreciate any stories and favorite links to what others have tried. I know nothing is guaranteed but to have a feeling of at least being pro active about my health. Also, has anybody switched things such as cleaning products and soap and shampoo? I’ve really started to think about what products I use and put on my body. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts



    DATNY Member Posts: 53

    I think many of us did it. For me it was a immediate switch to plant diet (I am back to normal diet now). Moreover, I fasted sometime as much as 19 hours a day. Most of my food intake was between noon to 4 PM. I think might have helped me control chemo symptoms and maybe get the complete pathological response I've got. Regarding fasting I recommend "The longevity diet food" by Lego. The plant based diet is something recommended even by American Cancer Society. I didn't discuss my diet with my doctor, it was clearly against the guidelines I received from my chemo center.

  • HD9700
    HD9700 Member Posts: 6

    I’m glad you asked this. I’ve been trying to find consolidated information myself and it’s not easy! Hopefully we’ll get a few more pieces of the puzzle.

  • Sjacobs146
    Sjacobs146 Member Posts: 155

    During chemo I are whatever I could tolerate. Post treatment, I didn't change much about my diet other than giving up soda and most processed foods. Now I am pre diabetic, and eating a higher protein diet. My doc told me that spikes in blood sugar causes the body to release hormones that feed tumors, so trying to keep blood sugar steady.I have switched to safer beauty products, specifically Beautycounter. I also gave up my acrylic nails.

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    these are great responses ladies and I really appreciate them! :)

  • shellsatthebeach
    shellsatthebeach Member Posts: 50

    I've mostly just cut out alcohol completely. I tried to go gluten free for a while and did feel great because I have two co-existing autoimmune diseases (Graves and Hashimotos) but went back to eating gluten mostly due to it being easier. I found it hard to make several different meals for dinner since my family members have some restrictions due to food allergies. Maybe someday I'll go back on it again.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,516

    I ate fairly healthy and walked a lot before cancer, so I stuck with those throughout treatment, however, I did cut out added sugar in favor of stevia (recommended by MD Anderson nutrition dept.) and reduced my alcohol to 2-3 drinks per week, if that. After my initial year of treatment, I introduced other things like a 16 hour daily fast (most days noon-8pm), and hour at the gym mon-fri for cardio and weights (chemo made my muscles so weak) and the most recent is the daily dozen challenge (pretty much a vegan food checklist), we still eat meat and dairy but try to check off the list first. DH and I have both lost weight, which we are trying to do and his blood sugar is down 100 points and getting close to normal.

    I did none of this during chemo though, I could only tolerate ramen noodles and fried rice and I still lost 25 lbs, basically due to malnutrition/starvation. Almost everything tasted like a gym bag, it was truly awful.

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    illimae, that sounds very doable and I think it would be a great change in diet for my husband who was just diagnosed with diabetes three months ago. I totally agree about everything tasting like a gym bag during chemo! I've tried to eat low fat and be mindful of what I'm eating but the week after chemo it's whatever ( and there isn't much) tastes decent, it's so frustrating! Half the time I think it's going to taste good and I make it and it's gross and I throw it out!


    I'm also planning on cutting out alcohol as much as possible from my diet, not that I was a big drinker to begin with but I enjoyed drinking a little too much on a girls weekend and this has caused me to be very mindful of what I'm putting in my body. I feel some days like all the control has been taken from me, I feel like this way I'm getting a little of that back.

  • GreenHarbor
    GreenHarbor Member Posts: 187

    My MO recommended lots of fruits and vegetables (I try for 4-5 servings per day), limited red/processed meat and 1-2 alcoholic drinks per week. I am trying to be mindful of white carbs like bread and pasta. I’m also trying to eat better quality food. Her point is whatever diet I choose, it has to be sustainable for the long term. I’m the kind of person that if I try and cut out an entire category of food (dessert, for example), I just want it more. Now that I’ve finished my radiation treatments, the big things I’m doing to avoid recurrence are taking an AI (anastrazole), and exercise. Learning that 150 minutes of exercise per week reduces the chance of recurrence by 40% was a big motivator for me! Good luck with finding the right path for you!

  • leftduetostupidmods
    leftduetostupidmods Member Posts: 346

    I used to be semi-vegetarian (actually more like a mix between Mediterranean and vegetarian), with most of what I ate being raw vegetables and fruit, a bit of whole gra bread, rarely meat, mostly chicken and some pork, beef maybe once every two years; no soda, rarely alcohol and that being beer. After BC I pretty much eliminated refined sugars and went LCHF. Sill don't drink alcohol and the only sugary stuff I eat is very dark chocolate. I honestly believe that, except for sugar, the rest is blablabla. Russian roulette: you may be eating the best possible way and get BC, or you can stuff your face with fast food and Twinkies and never get it. We just change out diet because it gives us a false sentiment that we're in control.

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    greenharbor, I’ve read that about exercise as well and it’s been a huge motivation for me to start walking every day even when I don’t feel like it one bit.

    Seachain, you’re very correct, we can eat the healthiest diet in the world and still get cancer, it’s hard for me to figure out a healthy balance so I can feel like I at least tried my best.

  • debrac
    debrac Member Posts: 63


    Thank you for this topic. Since my diagnosis, I’m so conflicted on what to eat. Have decided to give up alcohol and Diet Pepsi. Since my lumpectomy 4 days ago, my frig is full of food and desserts friends have brought over. Today is the last day of meals coming over, so next week want to limit sugars and try to eat real Whole Foods.

    Still so confusing.

  • Sjacobs146
    Sjacobs146 Member Posts: 155

    I should have added that I have pretty much cut out alcohol. My doc said no more than 3 drinks per week. Many weeks I don't drink at all. Only exception is when I'm on vacation, a girl's gotta live!

  • LizM
    LizM Member Posts: 46

    I am a 13 year breast cancer survivor and did drastically change my diet after diagnosis. The biggest changes were cutting out alcohol (cancer was ER/PR positive), adding green & ginger tea, cutting out all beef, except for grass fed with no hormones, and all dairy, except for organic. I started shopping in an organic market for most of my food, which was more expensive. I did eat wild caught fish, and organic chicken because I knew I needed the protein. I have been drinking an orgain nutrition shake every morning for 13 years also. I took Femara for 10 years and since I went off Femara, I take a baby aspirin since it is a low dose araomatase inhibitor. I was very anal with my diet for the first 5 years or so and I still follow it for the most part but do allow myself to drink a glass of wine once a month, a cup of coffee a day, and dessert once in a while because I got tired of denying myself the things I enjoyed.

  • edwards750
    edwards750 Member Posts: 1,568

    13 years is a long time Liz - congrats. I’m 7 years out last August.

    I haven’t changed my diet except I eat everything in moderation. It’s a good idea to eat healthy regardless but while you have a success story to tell there are others I know who lived the healthy lifestyle totally and still not only got BC but a recurrence as well. My sister is one of those people. Go figure.

    To each her own. My mindset is I’m not abstaining from foods I love unless there is a guarantee the beast won’t come back if I do.


  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    13 and 7 years out! Congratulations! My mom is 8 years out and had the same bc that I have. She always ate quite healthy and she never drinks but she had a hysterectomy at 35 and was put on hormones for hot flashes for 20 years, there is a good chance that could have brought it on but who really knows. She eats a low fat diet and has never been a caffeine drinker unlike myself but she refuses to give up the occasional piece of cake etc. she keeps telling me everything in moderation and stay active.

  • TwoHobbies
    TwoHobbies Member Posts: 1,532

    When I had my recurrence I searched pubmed endlessly looking for what I could do in addition to medicine. Here is what I did based on my research.

    - Exercise seems to be number one. I always aim to get my 150 minutes minimum per week but try to do more most weeks. More is better per my breast surgeon.

    - Blood sugar levels - those with fasting blood glucose 86 or lower had fewer recurrences. I am mostly Paleo. Similar to Seachain, I cut way back on grains and food with added sugar. I eat a lot of nuts, veggies with olive oil or grass fed butter, eggs, chicken, and berries. This will be good for your husband too. My hubby was diagnosed with diabetes around April and he changed to this way of eating and lost 50 pounds and has his A1C perfect. I stopped dairy for awhile but now I am back to eating plain yogurt and cheese. Try to eat organic as much as possible. I no longer believe in the low fat diet with lots of grains.

    -Women who fasted 13 hours per day (overnight) fared better. I always do 13 to 16 hour fast.

    -Vitamin D. I take vitamin D now but also get real vitamin D from the sun-moderately. Sun exposure additionally improves immune function.

    - Light at night. In mouse studies, tamoxifen did not work when mice were exposed to light at night. They described it as the amount of light that would come from the crack under your door. Yikes my bedroom faces the street and I always had light from the street lights, and I had been on tamoxifen when I recurred. Invest in room darkening curtains or a sleep mask.

    -Fasting. I do occasional fasts and did fast during chemo. Read up on Valter Lngo if interested in learning more.

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    TwoHobbies, thank you so much for your detailed response. I’m definitely interested in trying the Paleo diet and fasting after I’m done with chemo. Did you ever fast before chemo? Friday was my second round of chemo and it’s really kicking my butt with side effects this go round and I’m wondering if I can do anything different that might make the next one not so bad

  • TwoHobbies
    TwoHobbies Member Posts: 1,532

    Fasting is supposed to reduce side effects of chemo and clean out old cells. I think my first pre chemo fast I only lasted till about 2:30 and then caved. Each time I was able to go longer so it is almost like your body has to learn how to fast. The first chemo I had bad mouth sores and didn’t have any on the subsequent chemos. BUT I can’t say it helped me sail through. Chemo still kicked my butt fatigue-wise. But I also wasn’t sure I was fasting long enough to meet the requirements.

  • Yndorian
    Yndorian Member Posts: 236

    Low dosis naltrexone helps with autoinmune deseases and no SE. You can find information in youtube and google. There' s a site with a lot of studies published. Good luck. Sorry about my english, im from Argentina. Kisses

  • kksmom3
    kksmom3 Member Posts: 101

    Anybody take a baby aspirin daily?

    I ate pretty healthy, I lost 40 lbs 5 years ago and have kept it off. In fact, I lost 10 more after diagnosis. but that was mostly due to stress. I wouldn't say i radically changed my diet, but I have changed it.

    I rarely drink alcohol and when I do, I make it red wine. No added sugar! Not much for carbs. I try to get 5-6 servings of fruit and veggies a day, have switched to organic and if I can't get organic, I wash it in baking soda and water, you soak it for 15 minutes if you can, then rinse well. I try not to eat much red meat, and only use grass-fed if possible. I drink green tea daily, and very little dairy. I could do better on the dairy, I still love my coffee, I'm not giving that up. Joined the Y, and trying to go everyday after work whether I feel like it or not.

    I see a naturopath and she has me on a bunch of good supplements. I try to stay positive!

    I am a 6 month survivor today!

  • kec1972
    kec1972 Member Posts: 71

    Hi, I'll chime in on this topic. There was actually very little I could change as I was a vegetarian who never drank alcohol prior to diagnosis, and I'm also a personal trainer, so I've always gotten plenty of exercise. I did like my ice cream though, and I've since cut out all dairy. I'm down to one cup of coffee per day(from 2). I've always consumed green tea, but now I drink 2 or 3 cups a day instead of one, I've added daily mushrooms to my diet, as well as daily ground flax seed sprinkled into my coconut yogurt. Also started adding broccoli sprouts to my salads.The last change I made was adding 1/2 tsp turmeric to my salad drrssing

  • brinkofeternity
    brinkofeternity Member Posts: 181

    Since diagnosis I’ve been mindful of limiting my red meat intake. Also I try to drink veggie juice (kale, spinach, pear, cucumber, celery, ginger) and smoothies (berries, grapes, Brazilian nuts, hemp seed, flex seed) every morning.

    On personal products, this is what I received from a friend, a BC survivor:

    These are ingredients you should avoid for breast cancer:

    This page has some links to some useful sites that you can use to check if products are safe:

    The EWG and Think Dirty apps can also help you identify how safe a product is.

  • blah333
    blah333 Member Posts: 68

    No, I was vegan for 8 years before cancer, now I eat worse because I feel like my actions don't matter. Heredity can undermine anything... I eat more convenience foods vs. perishables because I have less money and less wind in my sails and also don't even like to eat.

  • Pbkru
    Pbkru Member Posts: 1

    A good resource i recently discovered is a Medical DR who operates a non profit dealing with nutrition for healing and fighting diseases. His non profit website is called You can watch over a thousand short videos on YouTube also from him. He emphasizes Vegetarian diet and shows the most comprehensive research from the world supporting what he says. He subscribes to all the worlds leading medical journals. His mom was suppose to die in 6 months when he was young and lived 31 more years after changing her diet. She was his inspiration to go to medical school but emphasize nutrition for healing yourself. I have been dealing with Stage IV to my bones and have been taking Ibrance and letrosole for the past 2.5 years. It has keep me stable and doing well. I wanted to quickly share what my research has led to additional improvements. I have been taking 1tsp of Dried Ginger /day after reading research showing The active ingredient in "Dried" ginger kills 10,000 time more cancer stem cells than chemotherapy alone. Since adding Dried ginger to my daily diet as tea or Capsules my tumor makers went down much more than on Ibrance and Letrosole alone, and have stayed down. This is the title of one of the articles I read (or skip to the Summery if too complicated) Found articles in Google : 6‐Shogaol, an active constituent of ginger, inhibits breast cancer cell invasion by reducing matrix metalloproteinase‐9 expression via blockade of nuclear factor‐κB activation. I also take Curcumin (Anti inflamitory) with black pepper extact (help absorbtion) which with the medications has decreased my pain from 10/10 in my hip to 0/10 within one month after diagnosis. Also you should look into IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate) To reduce chemotherapy side effects (small study), it suppose to improve quality of life. Please do your own research but I thought of sharing what took us about 2 years to find out these resources. Hope this helps Pat

  • santabarbarian
    santabarbarian Member Posts: 2,310

    I second curcumin. I used to have non-cancer-related hip pain that went away. I think inflammatory conditions in the body are carcinogenic and reducing inflammation is important.

    It can happen that a person with an excellent diet gets cancer, or one with a crappy diet does not, due to genetic or epigenetic risks, or chemical exposures, etc... but in general, a clean, no non-nutritive carbs, low inflammation, low animal products, rainbow of veggies diet is much better regarding recurrences. And 3-6 hours exercise per week is the sweet spot regarding lowest recurrence. The evidence is clear on this.

  • rah2464
    rah2464 Member Posts: 1,192

    Its the non-nutritive carbs that get me. I am more focused than before my diagnosis on eating cleanly. But those potato chips still occasionally call me. I try just to eat a few for an occasional treat.

  • Skier-girl
    Skier-girl Member Posts: 3

    LizM. Wow... 13 years.... that is great!! I am one year and freaking out about recurrence. Ugh.

    There are so many books out there saying so many different things and want you to take a suitcase full of supplements everyday!! Soy is good, soy is bad, tumeric is good/bad. I have made a few dietary changes, but I ate super healthy prior to my DX. I do drink a glass of red wine/week. I was ER+ PR+ and Hert-. Onco 5.

    It is hard to find anyone who hasn't had a recurrence!!! Maybe they are all out enjoying life and not on the Internet. Any suggestions to stop freaking out about a recurrence, diet, etc would be great.

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    Skier-girl, I joined a Facebook group called Arimedex support, they also have Tamoxifen support if you’re on that. It’s helped me a great deal and to see a lot of women who haven’t had any reoccurrence and the couple who have found it early and are doing really good. I’m just 4 months out from my final chemo and I’ve had to seek therapy and be on anxiety and depression meds to work through my fears. I still worry but I refuse to let it rule my life and it was definitely ruling my life. My mom is 8 years NED and on Aromasin and she’s my rock, she just doesn’t worry about it and never has, she just has the attitude that you could get killed crossing the street, you cannot stop crossing the street so you just live your life one day at a time and give thanks for that day. I’m changing my diet and I read a lot of labels and walk 40 minutes every day, that’s all I can do.

  • ruthbru
    ruthbru Member Posts: 46,705

    I exercise A LOT, keep my weight in the normal range, take a daily baby aspirin, limit alcohol (I rarely drink anyway, but if the occasion arises I have one drink.....two tops), try to eat more fruits & vegetables, less processed food etc. I think the key to everything is moderation (with an occasional splurge). Although I want to be mindful, I don't want worry about food/products I use etc. to cause more stress (and for some people it really rules their lives). My take from the whole experience was that I really, really want to ENJOY being alive while I can!

  • mnsotamom74
    mnsotamom74 Member Posts: 28

    ruthbru, I cannot agree with you more!!